VIDEO AND PICTURES: Tour of Britain thrills Devon
Local rider hits peak in Exmouth and West Hill stages
THE Devon Stage of The Tour of Britain treated crowds to a thrilling race, plenty of sunshine and some home grown success today (Thursday 15 September).
Organisers of the event praised Stage Five of Britain’s premier cycle race in Devon as the best ever, and it was the first time that Devon County Council had hosted an entire stage in the county.
There was plenty to cheer about as Devon rider Jonathan Tiernan-Locke, of Rapha Condor Sharp, dominated the Skoda King of the Mountain climbs in front of huge crowds on the roads across Dartmoor that he knows so well. He was first to summit Haytor and made it a hat-trick by also taking the honours at Coffin Stone and Huccaby Tor to put him in the polka dot jersey as the leader of the Skoda King of the Mountains classification. But it was Mark Renshaw of Team HTC-Highroad who crossed the line first in Exmouth, just ahead of teammate Mark Cavendish, watched by thousands of spectators who had gathered on the Esplanade to witness a hotly-contested sprint after a gruelling 110 miles (180 km) of the county.
Cathedral Yard in Exeter had also been packed in the morning as crowds gathered to see off some of the world’s best riders including Britain’s Tour de France Green Jersey winner Mark Cavendish, World Champion Thor Hushovd, Olympic track cycling Gold Medallist Geraint Thomas and Lars Boom of Rabobank, who was race leader at the start of the day.
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The fans were able to mingle with the world’s top professional cycling teams in Bedford Street before they set off in front of the Cathedral and headed out of the city and onto Dartmoor, where a huge number of spectators were also drawn to see the race. It was the three Skoda King of the Mountains climbs on Dartmoor that defined the stage and delighted the masses of cycling fans lining the route, as they saw Jonathan Tiernan Locke’s spirited performance. He received a massive cheer in front of his home crowd as he took to the podium in Exmouth to collect the Combativity Award as the most aggressive rider of the stage and the polka dot jersey as the new leader of the Skoda King of the Mountain.
Lars Boom, of Rabobank, maintained his overall lead in the race to hold on to the IG Markets Gold Jersey.
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Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Highways and Transportation, said: “Devon has again been treated to an amazing stage of The Tour of Britain and people have turned out in force to show their support for this incredible event. The icing on the cake is having local rider Jonathan Tiernan Locke pulling on the Skoda King of the Mountains jersey. Everyone was excited at the return of The Tour, the atmosphere was electric, and the size of the crowds has highlighted the appetite for cycling. I think we have clearly demonstrated that we truly are a cycling county.”
Councillor Will Mumford, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Economy, Enterprise and Employment, said: “I think Devon has again shown that it is more than capable of hosting world class events and we can all take great pride in that. It’s been encouraging to have welcomed so many visitors, which must benefit our local economy, and they will have seen for themselves what Devon has to offer as a premier cycling destination and active tourism destination.”
Mick Bennett, Race Director of The Tour of Britain, said: “This is the best Tour of Britain stage ever thanks to the weather, the quality of the field of riders, the way the race developed and the crowds in Devon.”
Exmouth will continue its celebrations with its Big Cycle Weekend at The Manor Gardens on Saturday 17 September, when it hosts the “Outspoken” festival. The event will feature music by Mama Stones House Band, as well as family entertainment including a climbing wall, 35ft inflatable pyramid, rodeo bull. Tickets cost �6 for adults, �3 for children under 12, or an all day family ticket costs �12. Activities are free upon entry. Further details can be found at www.exmouthparty.co.uk <http://www.exmouthparty.co.uk> And Darts Farm will host Cycle Sunday from 10am on Sunday 18 September.
The highlights of the Devon Stage will be shown on ITV4 this evening at 10:30pm. The Tour of Britain heads to Somerset tomorrow (Friday 16 September), with Stage Six from Taunton to Wells.
Stage 5 results:
Stage Winner: Mark Renshaw, Team HTC-Highroad IG Markets Gold Jersey, Race Leader: Lars Boom, Rabobank The Prostate Cancer Charity Blue Jersey, Points Leader: Geraint Thomas, Team Sky Skoda King of the Mountains Polka-dot Jersey, King of the Mountains Leader: Jonathan Tiernan Locke, Rapha Condor Sharp Yodel Sprints Green and Red Jersey, Sprints Leader: Pieter Ghyllebert, AN Post Combativity Award, Jonathan Tiernan Locke, Rapha Condor Sharp
For more information and results visit the Tour of Britain website at www.tourofbritain.co.uk.